Isthmian League

Report | Carshalton Athletic 2-1 Whitehawk

As we entered the final seconds of a match slipping increasingly away from Whitehawk’s grasp, Jack Dixon sent a free-kick high into the light-polluted sky of south London. This was *the* game, but as it landed straight into the hands of Aaron Jones, it pretty much encapsulated the preceding ninety-odd minutes. 

A frustrating affair that commenced with some genuine promise, genuine class. When Charlie Walker nestled the netting for a 15th time this season, Tuesday’s despondency at Hythe Town was already kicked firmly into the back of the mind. Whitehawk had started well enough – rode their luck at times, but this is the seventh tier of football, where the script is non-existent.

Swooshing away from the game for just a moment, the past few weeks have seen the Hawks’ form dip a little. There has been the reports where we have literally ran out of the superlatives; the reports where we praised the mentality and guile of a Whitehawk side somehow coming back to earn a point; and then the reports where we have had to dissect disappointment.

Myriad recent runs in the cup competitions has brought success to this football club, but what it has also brought is a disjointed and discombobulated schedule where not even God himself knows who we’re playing this week (it’s Bognor Regis, if you were paying close attention).

Seemingly behind the back of us all, Whitehawk have now won just the one of their previous nine fixtures in the league. Cause for concern? Behave. The previous six weeks have been a ruthless procession of road fixtures, shuttling up and down the A23 more times than a rail replacement bus.

Draws at Enfield Town, Cray Wanderers and Hornchurch may have felt like wins, but draws won’t do an awful lot to the standings. And that’s absolutely fine, when you’ve a fortress waiting for you at home. Basically, what we’re trying to say is, when two of your previous 10 matches have been away, it’s going to have an impact on your squad.

A squad that was bolstered in midweek by the arrival of Cameron Tutt, signed from Worthing on dual-registration terms as cover for the poleaxed Hamish Morrison and the suspended Stefan Wright. John Nandhra has been superb in his three appearances prior to today, but this was his first in the league, as he started proceedings on the bench.

But it was the hosts in Carshalton Athletic, who are evidently returning to some sort of form, who began the afternoon in finer fashion. Mitch Walker called into some early action to keep the scores level, the coals cooled as the other Walker headed the Hawks in front. A short tale of two Charlies, Harris would be the provider for Walker with a cross oozing with class that dropped onto his head beautifully as it found the far corner.

For all the fist bumps and cheers, it lasted a mere 90 seconds. A free-kick was awarded some 30 yards away from Walker’s goal, a smidgen to the left of the box. Bradley Williams placed the ball down onto the brushed artificial turf, and commenced his run-up. The strike is a thing of beauty, curling away into the top corner as it crashed off the underside of the crossbar before colliding with the ‘1’ of Walker’s shirt. It trickles over the line, and Whitehawk’s lead is diminished for the day.

Dixon glanced a cross agonisingly wide before a blocked Harris strike required the ultimate tip ‘round the post as Shan Saunders’ side pushed and squeezed for a second, but instead came the half-time whistle.

It had been cagey at times; Carshalton Athletic’s midfield the quicker and nimbler of the two, feeding a frontline that that possessed pace and potency. What lacked was the finish, but as the white shirts of Whitehawk emerged from the tunnel and the second half started, you could tell that something was brewing.

It just wasn’t quite the same level of intent. The chances dried up as the faintest mizzle trickled down over south London with the clock constantly clicking. Lloyd Dawes slapped the hands of Dominic Johnson-Fisher as the former entered the fray, before Nandhra made his fourth appearance in as many competitions after replacing Harris.

And as the clock struck 16.40, with the match entering its denouement, the day was still in the balance. Saunders had opted for a back three now, as Daly moved into the midfield — a place where he roams with glee and gaiety — to put the pressure back onto the hosts.

But when one invites such pressure, it normally leads to a door being blown over. That entrance, Whitehawk’s entrance, was kicked wide open by the boot of Danny Bassett, who fired his Robins in front with a near post powerhouse of a drive. Too good for Walker, too good for Whitehawk. It had been coming, and now the impetus rested in the hands of Saunders’ side.

Dawes was slipped through on goal, but he could not quite fashion room for the shot. That would be that, as defeat grips Whitehawk for a second time this week. In this recent odyssey to some of the further reaches of the south-east, there’s been some truly fabulous performances.

But maybe it’s best we return home to the comfort of The Enclosed Ground, and put back the bricks that the recent storm has blown over.

Comments (1)

  1. Thank you for your match report concerning the match between CAFC and Whitehawk.
    I found it both fair and accurate.
    All things being said about teams experiencing similar fortunes in the glorious non league world I hold so dearly.
    What I witnessed was an exiting game of football from two mid table teams that was hard fought and fair.
    Particularly from Whitehawk who showed how to commit to 50/50 tackles fairly without the need to lose restraint where an injury might occur.
    Thankyou Whitehawk f.c., and the very best for the rest of the season.
    Much Respect.

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